Shahad’s Story, Lebanon



Photo by UNHCR/E. Dorfman/2013.

Four-year-old Shahad, whose name means “the sweetest part of the honey,” was born in a village near the city of Hama in western Syria. Her father, Yehia, is a farmer who raised wheat and barley. Before the war, the family had, he recalls, “the best life.”

But last September, fighting levelled their three-storey family home. Shahad’s 10-year-old brother, Jasim, and baby sister, Aya, who was not yet two, were killed, along with five other family members. Rescuers pulled Shahad from the rubble, her face lacerated and silky curls torn from her skull.

The family rushed her to a local clinic, where an overworked medic put in stitches and hastily sent the family on their way. There was no time to properly clean the wound. The whole family fled for the border. On the way, they were stopped at dozens of checkpoints, where they feared being detained and imprisoned. Seventeen hours later, after midnight, they arrived in Lebanon with nothing but a suitcase.

The family registered with UNHCR and received basic supplies such as mattresses, blankets, cooking utensils and hygiene items. Aid agencies have provided electricity to the building, installed outdoor latrines and ensured drinking water. Refugees are receiving food vouchers as well.

Yehia, like many fathers, is doing what he can to keep the surviving members of his family alive.

See Yehia telling the family’s story: 


Text by A. Purvis/2013.

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1 family torn apart by war is too many

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